Monthly Archives: September 2014

Ironman Chattanooga 2015 Here We Come

Well, it is official. Scott and I are now signed up for Ironman Chattanooga in 2015. After a long 8 hour shift volunteering at Run Special Needs for the 2014 event, the OGRE’s stood in line bright and early Monday morning to take advantage of the pre-registration and signed up.

This will be the first Ironman distance race for both of us. Luckily we have a year to prepare, and will be doing several races between now and then as prep. We will be training with the good folks at Endurance House Atlanta, and expect to race under their colors next year.

10523319_1491889741067907_3479052639149083201_nAs you see here, the motley crew of people racing with Endurance House should make for a very fun year of training. Along the way however, we have some things to do. Oddly, this was the event that really compelled us to start this website. The journey to get there is the real story behind every race. This is the story of the journey, to be told along the way, in all of it’s painful glory.

I hope you enjoy the next year. I can honestly say that I am excited, but also terrified. At the end of the day though, volunteering this year helps me understand what we have gotten into.

Not too long ago, I say a quote that really sums it all up though:

If your dreams do not scare your, then you are not dreaming big enough

With that in mind, we are dreaming big. When we run though Run Special Needs next year, we hope to see the kind of support the race earned this year.

Grinding it out

There will be days in every athletes regimen that just do not feel great. A workout will scheduled. You will get into the workout and it just feels off. The best description I have heard is that you just do not feel ‘into it’ that day. It is easy to quit the workout on those days, and this is the difference between success and mediocrity. Success means you grind through it.

Last night was a very good example for me.

I had a ride scheduled. I was looking for about 20 miles to just get the body back into the routine that has been so disrupted over the last couple of weeks. Time got away from me with work and family stuff, so I was finally hitting the road at 5:30 instead of the 4:30 I had planned. I had to be back before 7:00, so time was of the essence. As I rolled out, I was already feeling the pressure of getting it done, and by the third hill in the first 2 miles, I wasn’t feeling it. It had to be get done though, so it was time to just grind it out.

In the end, I never really did get into the groove. Never could get a sustained, comfortable rhythm going. Just kept turning it over, and the result wasn’t a terrible ride, despite how it felt. 18.8 miles, 777 ft of elevation, at an average speed of 18 mph isn’t bad by my standards, but it never felt very good either.

It doesn’t really matter much though, because it got done. This morning I feel better for it. I guess a picture sums it up best.


Coping with Schedule Conflicts

One of the most difficult things we face as amateur athletes is that while we may want to train like the pros, this is not our job. We have other commitments and when it comes down to it, our training time doesn’t come out of our work time, but our personal time. Normally this is a challenge, but when you start throwing in things like business travel, well, sometimes your training schedules get more than a little disrupted.

Right now, I am feeling that pain. Having been on the road for 7 of the last 10 days, my training schedule has been a mess, and compounding matters, I have been battling the lingering effects of a minor, but uncomfortable injury in the form of a bruised heel.  In a stretch where I would normally have logged about 35 miles of running, 4 hours in the water, and another 80 miles on the bike, only a 15 miles of running, 2 hours in the water, and one 35 mile bike ride have been completed. Even those miles have been haphazard at best. The net result, is that I am probably fine, I don’t feel that way. I feel guilty, like I have cheated.

The thing is, I know from historical evidence, that not only will it be fine, I will likely benefit from the break. Personally, I have found that these lulls provide me a training benefit by giving some healing time that I am won’t to not take otherwise. Time will tell, but these ‘rest weeks’ may well be more beneficial than the rest days that I so hate.

The challenge though, is making sure that a rest week doesn’t overflow into multiple rest weeks. Getting back to the routine is hard after time off with a schedule disruption. That is my challenge this week. Overcoming the lethargy of a 10 days of travel, to get back on the horse, and not letting my hectic schedule overcome the training schedule.

Meaning that this afternoon will need some time on the trainer if the predicted storms roll in, and if not, well, I’ll see you on the roads of north Fulton and south Forsyth at about 4:30!

Listening to Your Body

Often when training we hear the phrase “Push through the pain”. It is often good advice, but not always. There are times when you have to find the difference between ‘discomfort’, ‘healthy pain’, and ‘injury looming’. You can push through any of these, but pushing through ‘injury looming’ is a quick way to take a forced 4-16 weeks off. Today, I got a first hand glimpse of this, and almost made the wrong choice.

It is a saturday, it is long run day. So I headed out on the run. Things were good early, but somewhere about mile 4, something wasn’t “right”.  By the 5.5 mile mark, it wasn’t just not right, it was headed for really wrong, and fast. The signs were there, but I wasn’t paying attention. By the time I caught on, it was almost too late. I backed it down to a walk, but the left hip, calf and heel were all telling me that there was a problem. It took a bit to figure out the source of the problem: worn out shoes.  Sadly, they shouldn’t be, they only have about 150 miles on them, but this particular shoe ( Brooks PureDrift ) just hasn’t worn well at all. In this case, though the sole looked to be in good shape, the softer foam padding between the insole and the sole itself was breaking down, and fast.

Slowing to a walk I figured I could at least work my way back to the car, lick my wounds and live to run another day. Unfortunately, the shoe damage was terminal.  By mile 7, I concluded the shoes were doing more harm than good, so off they came, socks into a pocket, and walk/run the remaining mile or so. Since I frequently run in New Balance Minimus Zero’s, running barefoot is not a crisis, but I do not have the callouses built up to do it for long distances.

At the end of the day though, I ignored ‘discomfort’ and pushed into the ‘injury imminent’ territory. I got lucky, and started listening before it turned into an injury, so I shouldn’t have any downtime for it. But it is days like these that reinforce the dynamic that I sometimes forget.

Listen to your body it is talking to you all the time and you ignore what it is saying at your own peril.

Embrace the Commute for Training

As an aspiring ( and late in life ) triathlete, finding the time to get in the miles and hours required to build fitness and base endurance is probably the single largest challenge. Time, for many of us is our most valuable commodity. Between the demands of employment, family, sleep, and our social commitments, squeezing out potentially hours a day for working out is tough. Many of us look to combine our fitness goals into other aspects, be it social, or family obligations, while some of us are lucky enough to be able to get our fitness as part of our employment, the rest of us, have to find that time elsewhere.

Consider a pretty typical white collar professional parent schedule:

7:00-7:45AM – Feed kids/launch them to school.
7:45-9:00AM – Transit to place of employment.
9:00AM-12:00PM – Work
12:00-12:30AM – Lunch like time (in many cases eaten at a desk)
12:30-5:00PM – Work
5:00-6:15PM – Transit Home
6:15-8:00PM – Family Time (dinner,homework,domestic chores)
8:00-10:00PM – “Down Time”

Carving out ‘workout time’ that isn’t in that late evening time, using dreadmills and indoor trainers is brutal. This is where the commute as a training window comes into play. A commute of say 10-20 miles is going to take 20-60 minutes in a car in most areas, while that same commute by bicycle is going to be between 20-90 minutes depending upon the rider. Add some clean up and a change of clothes at the other end, and you are typically still well within the transit time window. Now instead of needing to find another time during the day for a workout, the workout is part of the day.

Will this work for everyone? absolutely not, but if you can make it work for you, it can be a huge benefit, not only in time saved and fitness, but it also improves on the job performance (though I will be the first to admit that there are days when the temptation to keep riding past the office is almost overwhelming!).

For me personally, I have had to adapt a couple of things in my schedule. My working hours are early, I typically target getting to the office around 6:30AM, so I am commuting in the dark, so that means riding with lights. I enjoy the morning ride as a low pace 12 mile spin, with an average of about 15 mph. I then work until 2:30 or 3:00PM and then hustle home on a different return route that is close to 16 miles over some nasty rollers. This is a far more spirited work out, that usually pushes over 18 mph. Once I am home, and I get the kids off to their various events, I use the down time between drop off and pick up times to either work on the laptop, hit the trail for a run, or hit one of the pool options for a few laps. Then it is home for dinner, homework, baths and bedtimes. Sure, the days are full, but I actually feel better for it, and I am not stressing about finding time in the day to squeeze in a bike workout too.

Race Report – Callaway Gardens Fitness Series Triathlon & 5k

August 30, 2014 two of the OGRE’s joined up with Lee and Steve Karp of Endurance House Atlanta to take a short trip down to Pine Mountain, GA to participate in the Callaway Gardens Fitness Series Triathlon and 5k event at Callaway Gardens. This is an event that claims to be the oldest ongoing triathlon in the continental U.S. having run every year since 1980. That may be the case, but the information to be found online, is a bit shall we say, lacking. Regardless, the venue offers up some pretty scenery, and the event held a lot of potential. As an added bonus, this was Scott’s first triathlon event.

The event itself was billed as a 1km swim, 30km bike and 8km run, though the course and profile was not available until checkin on sunday, and even that map was a little tricky to make heads or tails of. It doesn’t help that many of the roads inside of Callaway Gardens are not properly mapped in any of the current mapping tools online, so going into the course quite blind meant preparing for an unknown.

Course Swim Bike Run

As you will see if you look at the maps, none of the distances measured to quite the lengths expected. Not a crisis, but the event proved to be a little shorter than expected.


The swim portion of the course was cut down pretty dramatically due to a wakeboarding competition to be held in the same lake later in the day. The net result was a swim course that swam much closer to 600 meters than one 1000. Adding to the confusion here was a mixture of buoys in the water courtesy of the same wakeboarding event. All in all, the swim itself should have been a nice loop, but the confusion with the buoys combined with a lack of swim support ( 4 support ski boats, no paddle boards or wave runners for close support of swimmers ) made for a couple of scary moments as one swimmer did have a bit of panic set in early in the swim and the support simply was out of place. Competitors saved the day there, not the support staff.


This was the part of the course that probably raised the most eyebrows. The race director noted early and often that the course was quite techincial with several 90* or worse turns (14 of them in total). In addition, there was a good bit of riding up (and down) grades between 3-7%. with a total ascent of about 650 feet, none of it on straight roads, and all of it in the shade of trees, or on the edge of lakes. Certainly pretty, but a little frustrating if you are trying to maximize your speed on the bike course. Advertised at 30km, the measured distance came in at a little over 26km, and while it was fairly technical, it remained a course that could be ridden at an average speed over 20mph. In addition, the course was well marked and had support staff at every turn directing traffic. Unfortunately, in sections that meant also directing cars, as the roads were open during this time. There were moments where the ride was flowing in the same lane as cars, in a strange twist on the norm, it was the bikes speeding around cars that created most of the challenge here.

On a final note about the bike course, this was not a USAT event, and though it was never stated, there were no drafting guidelines mentioned, and it was being done. It felt more like a WTC style event than a USAT event. This would have been good information pre race to have had.


Coming off the bike, the run course went out on a short, fast section of course that is better suited to trail runners than road runners, with some sections of the path that have roots causing ripples in the pavement. That first 2.75 mile, 4km section of the run is fast, and blessedly shaded, it was quick, and featured 2 water/gatorade stations along the out and back route. At the 2.8 mile mark, though, the course turns left into a long slog of a climb, around the back side of the lake the swim was in. Honestly, I do not think the run route was a bad course by any means, but as I was having some issues at that point, I can honestly say that I had hit the ‘just slog through and finish’ wall, so my judgement of the back side of this course is probably harsher than it deserves. About all I can say is that on a good day, it should have been a fast course. On this particular day, it was not a fast course at all.

Race Notes

Overall, this event is one that held a lot of promise, but largely failed to deliver on the promise due to poor communication and weak swim support/safety measures. While the course is a gorgeous track, the issues place it pretty firmly on the Do Not Repeat list. At the end of the race, we all seemed to have the same feeling too. Just poor communication, and I suspect the race director was simply trying to do his best to cope with things that got pushed and changed by forces beyond his control. These things however do not excuse the issues. Which, is a little sad. The timing, location and venue for the event are all really good. It would be a great venue for a great event, with just a little more structure and communications.

The weather was perfect, if perhaps a little humid once the sun really came out near the finish of the run. The awards were presented promptly, and they did a very nice job of getting everyone their awards quickly complete with photos, as well as keeping the results posted early and often for the runners as they crossed the lines.

Race Day Equipment

Dru’s Race Day Kit

Endurance House logo’d Shorts and Singlet kit by Garneau

These are basically the Tri Elite Course kits with custom print and color setup. Superb kit, and we got to represent for some really good people, which is always a good time.

2014 Cannondale CAAD10/4

This has been my road bike this season and it will likely remain my primary bike for the foreseeable future, it is going to have to be joined by a dedicated tri bike this winter. For this race it served exceptionally well, and is for the most part a bone stock 2014 CAAD10/4. The exceptions are that the pedals are Speedplay Zero’s, and the seat has been swapped to a Fizik Airione. In addition, it has been heavily adjusted to fit me, and my slightly aggressive riding position.

New Balance 890v3

Due to the moisture I expected on the course, and some lingering issues in my left heel where I bruised the heel on a rock in the yard during the week, I made a last minute switch to running in my 890’s. I did get a couple of training runs in in them so the shoes themselves would have been fine. Unfortunately, I failed to think through the entire process, and honestly I paid for it. For this distance race, I do not wear socks, and this race did not afford a good place to clean the feet in transition. So it was that I jumped on the bike with wet feet, and pushed a pace where I wasn’t going to dry out. That meant that when I hit the run transition, I went into the 890’s a little wet, with a little grit and sand still lingering on the legs and feet. As I started running, the combination of sand, grit, water and swet led to an achilles blister on the right heel. The unconscious favoring of the blister led to a hip cramp, which ultimately disrupted my run. While this remains a fantastic shoe for single discipline runs for me, I just find the versatility of the trail minimus to be the better answer for my tri needs.

TomTom MultiSports GPS Watch

Still the goto device for me, the TomTom showed well. Per it’s usual weakness, there remains no open water swim mode, but for both the bike and run, the GPS picked up exceptionally quick in transitions, and we got good maps and results for those legs of the event.

Wahoo Fitness Bluetooth HRM

For this race, it was still the original bluetooth heart rate monitor. The TIKR is very much on the list of items to acquire and test out, but budgets being what they are, we are still working with the older model. That said, this remains the most reliable of the heart rate monitor units that we have used to date.

Weekend Randomness

WP_20140901_005As noted during the week last week, we had a race to do at Callaway Gardens on Sunday, so Saturday was mostly a travel day. The weekend was a long onethough, being Labor Day here in the states, so Monday was open for some play time. I was in need of a nice little post race recovery run, so I went and did a little exploring in the area. I knew there was a small trail loop down by the Chattahoochee River that I had not found a chance to explore before, so off I went.

WP_20140901_001The trail itself is very nice, though sitting where it does, there are some odors that might be a little much for some.  There is some nice wildlife to be seen as well. The whole thing is about a mile loop around, and can easily be worked into a pretty comfortable 10 mile loop including most of the Azalea Rd/Riverside Rd greenway system.  In addition, the traffic is light while the path itself is really quite good with few roots or large rocks to negotiate, making it a nice place to run for someone that is normally a ‘road’ runner.

WP_20140831_008Of course we also had the triathlon, which will get a full race report in a day or so, once time allows.  The short version though,  we arrived, we swam, we biked, we more or less ran.  We finished, and we got to represent our friends at Endurance House Atlanta.